...Politics & Current Events In N.C.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Copy editor fairy 

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I think it would be helpful if a magical grammar fairy would fly around the internet. Then I wouldn't constantly put up mis-spelled words and sentences that don't hold together. Sorry about the mistakes. It's just that I'm so wordy, and yet I cannot spell.

Ruby, David, and Dean 

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I went out to Durham to attend some Dean events scheduled there around the visit of Dean online organizer and super-blogger Zephyr Teachout.

I had an interesting chat with several people who made me really think.

The first was David who works (invented?) a nonprofit called The Fair Trial Initiative, which fights to empty Death Row and end the death penalty in general. There is something pretty inspiring about a man who dedicates his life to stopping a crime that is so often committed in my name.

The second person was one Ruby who works on OrangePolitics.org, blogging politics in the Triangle.

I talked to them about some of the ideas that have been running through my head, and they seemed to agree that there is room for an online activist group in NC focused on state-level politics. It was nice to meet people who have some of the same interests as me, but even nicer to meet people who know a lot more than me about progressive activism.

I have been working on a project called The North Carolina Center for Public Trust. The idea is to make it into a kind of an outlet for progressive policy ideas, but right now it has a long way to go. Developing such a project is something that requires the recognition and backing of a wide group of people with intellectual and financial resources. Thomas Mills is working with several people to build it and the concept has a lot of promise. Overall, I think the project is important. I will continue to actively support it, but there is another avenue that I also want to explore.

The event that got me online was the Dean campaign. I like Dean. I like his issues. But like many people, Dean was only the beginning of what got me hooked. What excited me was that his campaign, along with other grassroots activists and organization such as MoveOn.org and Kos, proved to me that the internet is a powerful tool in organizing political action.

And it is the word action that has so engrossed me. Last night Zephyr Teachout said something along the lines of, "Living in a democracy involves more than just voting." It is the potential of the internet to get people connected with their own government again that so excites me. It is the possibility ending the Bowling Alone phenomenon that has energized me from toe-nail to split-end. I am convinced that the future of political activism will be based on the technology of the internet

So what to do? Think tanks are great, but I want to participate in action. How can I help to contribute to the movement that will forever be associated with Dean? Ed Cone's case study outlines what Dean has done to foster net-roots. I think an online progressive movement in NC can grow from this, but I certainly cannot make it happen. For one thing I don't have the skills and experience. More importantly, this is not the kind of thing that can be simply cut and pasted from the Dean campaign into state politics in general. That kind of project requires the passion and contribution of a whole community of people within the state.

Talking with David and Ruby convinced me that there are people out there who are equally or more interested in fostering this kind of net-roots activity in North Carolina. More importantly, there are people out there who are interested in fostering net-roots who have the know-how and skills to get things done. I think that with inspirational people like David and Ruby around, it is only a matter of time until such an organization is developed.

The question is what I am going to do as part of this revolution. I'm no William Wallace. I'm just a college grad without a job and a lot of idealism. What should I do to help?

Here is the manifesto for my future activities that I developed based on these thoughts.

Step #1--Make this site better. I need to cut my teeth here on html, php, and developing content that inspires dialogue. This requires skills and experience that I don't have right now.

Step #2-- Join the community. There are a lot of progressive types in this state despite the dominant conservative culture.

I think probably the best way to do this is to jump fully onto the Dean train. The Democratic party is nice and all, but there are a lot of things that it can learn from Dean. Another option is to explore is the Progressive Democrats auxiliary group that is just organizing around the state. This site is called Carolina Progressive because I am a progressive. If I'm serious about advocating economic and social justice in this state, then I should join instead of watch.

Hopefully I can also find some others who would be interested in blogging on state politics and form an online community. This is supposed to be about building a community, not making me feel better about myself so I am hoping that other bloggers out there will also be focusing on state issues. Some, like The Political Junkies already are (although they are not a Blog). Others like the discussion board at The Common Sense Foundation are just getting warmed up. Obviously, there are plenty of blogs that mention state politics on occasion, but those are the only ones I know of that focus primarily on state politics on the progressive side.

Step #3--Work with this community, supporting it in any way I can, to build the tools and the sense of empowerment that the Dean people have proven are so effective.

Right now I'll focus on steps #1 and #2. I'll work on improving this site, and work to meet others who are interested and engage in a discursive dialogue about the future of NC progressive activism.

While we're taking our country back, we might as well take a stab at our state.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

I am so excited 

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I cannot even sit down. This is so huge. I just don't have time to write it all out....

The big winners of this--us

The parties are going to wake up and say....where did our party go? They suddenly are going to realize that they cannot run on image. Message is important, but without the trial lawyers and the NRA they are going to have to get down, reach out to their party members, and do some good 'ol fashion politics.

The other us will aslo win. The combination of Dean's success and this ruling is going to mean that the internet, and the fundraising and actavism that it allows are going to within two decades become the central component of any major campaign.

Expect and Easley Blog soon. I'm going to send an application.

This is so big 

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Normally I avoid national level analysis. There are lots of sites that do that, and I don't have much to add.

But this is absolutely huge for all levels of politics:

The Supreme Court upheld the soft-money ban

A few quick thoughts at the state level.

1) There is going to be just....a huge, giant, enormous---really, really, really, big amount of money flowing into "party building", get-out-the vote efforts. "Grass roots" and grass roots just got more important. In my opinion that is one of the new loopholes that the money will flow to.

2) There are different regulations in McCain-Feingold for STATE parties vs. the DNC. I haven't had time to read this yet, but you can bet your bottom dolllar that the state party organizations just became a lot more important. That will be another place the money will flow. At least in NC, that's a big advantage for the Dems.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003


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I saw the first ad for a Republican in the primary for the 5th congressional seat. He was promising jobs!! Shocker. But it was good, and it was on NBC instead of the stupid cable ads that some pretend candidates have been doing.

I believe!! 

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I think I finally want my country back.

Monday, December 08, 2003

What do we say? 

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I had an interesting conversation last week with someone pretty heavily involved in Democratic legislative races, and he asked me ... "What are we going to run on?"

The obvious stuff choices are -- Jobs, Education, Healthcare

But this is old hat.

The Repulicans are going to have a good year in North Carolina. The Governor's race looks pretty good for Easley but Bush is sure to do very well and the Bowles/Burr race is just starting and will be heavily in favor of the pro-Bush candidate. So if most of the voters are going to support Bush, how do Democrats blame him for the slow economy and still get voters who choose him to vote for Easley or the local Democratic State Senator.

It will be easy for the Republicans to claim that Democrat incumbents are part of the problem. The special "jobs" session scheduled for this week is cute, but it isn't getting nearly the attention that the Democrats need. Not only that but even with the incentives they are going to pass, it is not guaranteed that the targeted companies will actually come (it seems that Boeing has already decided to stiff NC). Republicans have the easy answer--tax cuts. But it is harder for Democrats to pass tax-cuts, because they know that a bad economy means that struggling families need more help and not less. And that costs money.

On top of that, a string of scandals is going to lead to a "sweep the scoundrels out" campaign theme for the Republicans. Not to mention that the obscene level of pork flowing to certain legislative seats will again be highlighted (remember the fun Blackbeard's pirate ship radio ads last cycle?)

So do the Democrats need something more exciting than the Education, Healthcare, Jobs mantra that they have used by candidates in the past few cycles?

One option is the environment. This is one area that voters do not trust Bush, and recent evidence that NC has some pretty dirty air may be helpful.

But a better option is to make the Education, Healthcare, Jobs mantra better. Get a state-wide TV and mail campaign up early explaining the issues. People in North Carolina have historically been willing to hold off on supporting tax cuts in exchange for better, more accountable schools.

The party needs to make sure that there actually IS a Democratic message this cycle, and that it DOESN'T come from the Presidential nominee. Perhaps start a campaign to guarantee only 25 students per classroom. Maybe put forward a major new initiative to guarantee insurance for every child in the state.

Sadly, this is probably not going to happen. But I'll wait to assign blame for that until I find a job.

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